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Choosing a nursery: a quick guide

Choosing a nursery: a quick guide

Balancing work, life and family is essential for any working parent – especially if your child is pre-school age and you need to seek external childcare support. Not only does this early years education allow you to go out and work; it has a direct impact on your child’s ability to learn, build healthy relationships, and thrive in the future. By choosing the right option, your family will benefit greatly.

For many parents, this is a nursery. So, what is this popular childcare option and how do you choose one that’s right for you and your child?

What is a nursery?

A day nursery is a childcare facility that looks after kids from six weeks to five years, though the exact age ranges vary depending on the nursery. For instance, some nurseries don’t take babies or young toddlers.

They are operated by a variety of different entities: local authorities, volunteer and community groups, local schools or private businesses.

How to choose a nursery

This quick checklist will help you choose a reputable nursery that meets your requirements:


Budget for what you can afford. London parents pay £218 per week on average for a part-time nursery place – the highest in the country.

Searching online

Begin your online search for nurseries with vacancies by visiting

Check they’re registered

Nurseries in England must be registered with education watchdog Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education).

Check their reports

Every nursery in England must be inspected and graded by Ofsted. Check the reports of these inspections online.

Check the curriculum

All Ofsted-registered nurseries must follow the early years foundation stage (EYFS) curriculum.

Check the ratios

All early years providers working with children from birth to 5 years old must adhere to the government regulations on EYFS staff:child ratio. This refers to the number of qualified staff necessary in an early years setting to the number of children.

The statutory minimum staff-to-child ratios in England are:

  • For children under two: 1:3
  • For two-year-olds: 1:5
  • For children aged three and over where a member of staff with approved level 6 qualification is working directly with the children: 1:13
  • For children aged three and over where a member of staff with approved level 6 qualification is not working directly with the children: 1:8#


Consider whether you would prefer a nursery close to your home or close to your place of work.


Consider whether you want the nursery to open only in term-time or all year-round.

Consider what time you can drop off your child in the morning and pick them up after work.

Read reviews

To get a true reflection of what a nursery is like read parent reviews. There are over 150,000 reviews on



Visit several nurseries so you can compare facilities, staff and the general feel.

If possible, take your child along so you can gauge their first impression and see how the staff interact with them.

Waiting lists

Competition for nursery places in London is fierce, especially for babies and full-time places, so put your child on waiting lists for any providers that meet your criteria immediately.

Consult with Simply London

Consult with Simply London to find a highly-rated nursery that aligns with your requirements and has the potential to give your child the best possible start in life.


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